QAA Higher Education Review Wales 2015

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has confirmed the quality and standards of provision at the University of South Wales.

The team of QAA reviewers visited the University of South Wales in April 2015 and made judgements regarding standards and quality in the following areas:

  • The setting and maintenance of the threshold academic standards of awards;
  • The quality of student learning opportunities;
  • The quality of the information produced;
  • The enhancement of student learning opportunities;
all of which meet UK expectations. The University of South Wales has produced an action plan, in consultation with the Students’ Union Elected Officers, in response to the QAA’s outcome report. It will address the recommendations and further develop areas of good practice. The University is expected to review and update the action plan annually until all actions are complete.

The report identifies areas of good practice across the University:

  • The provision of high-quality, focused and accessible guidance on the recognition of prior learning for employers and applicants (Expectation B6).
  • The role of University Link Officers in the support of current collaborative partnership operations (Expectation B10).

The report also makes the following recommendations to the University

By October 2015:

  • ensure that appropriate and effective representation mechanisms are used to engage with all postgraduate research students (Expectation B5)
  • make more systematic and effective use, at school level and above, of the University’s academic processes and monitoring procedures so as to ensure that its policies and practices are consistently applied (Expectation B6)
  • ensure that external examiners’ reports are routinely and transparently available to students (Expectation B7)
  • review its Due Diligence Policy and procedures to ensure that it scrutinises all organisations actually or potentially associated with provision leading to its awards (Expectation B10)
  • ensure that all records of postgraduate research supervisor training are complete and fit for purpose (Expectation B11)
  • ensure that all information for prospective and current students is consistently accurate and meets the University’s minimum requirements (Expectation C)
  • ensure that information published by partners and third-party organisations, about provision leading to University awards, is consistently fit for purpose and trustworthy (Expectation C).

By January 2016:

  • ensure that all master’s by research and professional doctorate courses are appropriately regulated within clearly defined awards frameworks (Expectation A2.1)
  • ensure that a definitive record of every course and qualification, including taught or structured components of research awards, is current, approved and maintained (Expectation A2.2).

Affirmation of action being taken

The QAA review team affirms the following actions that the University of South Wales is already taking to make academic standards secure and/or improve the educational provision offered to its students including:

  • The systematic mechanisms being developed to improve the timeliness and nature of assessment feedback across all University provision (Expectation B6).
  • The actions being taken to develop and publish specific handbooks for all courses (Expectation C).

The University of South Wales response to outcome of report

Professor Julie Lydon, Vice-Chancellor, said:

“We’re delighted that the QAA has endorsed USW with its seal of approval, recognising the academic quality, professionalism, and organisation of the University. It’s a tribute to the staff who are really delivering in a time of unprecedented change, both for the University and in the wider world of higher education.

This rigorous report, the first major external assessment of the new University, confirms that USW’s academic standards, the quality and enhancement of its student learning opportunities, and the quality of information about its learning opportunities all meet UK expectations.

We’ll also be working carefully on QAA’s helpful guidance on where we can do work to improve further the organisation of the information and support we give our students, building on what we’re already doing to respond to the National Student Survey.”

Mary Hulford, Director
Academic Standards and Quality Service


For information about the Institutional Review or the QAA